US to Pacific leaders: be wary of funds with strings attached

Antony Blinken told a virtual summit of leaders and delegates from 11 Pacific countries that economic coercion across the region was on the rise.

While making no specific mention of China, he also spoke of threats to order in the region.

"The United States is all for more development and investments in the Islands, but that investment should adhere to international standards for environmentally and socially sustainable development, and should be pursued transparently, with public consultation.

US 'rapidly' planning to evacuate Afghan interpreters

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen Mark Milley said a "significant" number of interpreters and other employees could be targeted by Taliban militants.

As many as 18,000 Afghan nationals have applied for US visas to immigrate to the US under a special programme.

But the scheme has been hit by delays, with applicants waiting for years.

"We recognise that there are a significant amount of Afghans that supported the United States and supported the coalition, and that they could be at risk," Gen Milley said in remarks his office released on Thursday.

US lottery jackpot 'winner' says she destroyed $26m ticket in laundry wash

The winning SuperLotto Plus ticket was sold at a convenience store in the Los Angeles suburb of Norwalk in November.

The woman, who has not been named, was reportedly captured by CCTV purchasing a ticket at the store at the time.

But a deadline set for claiming the substantial prize passed on Thursday.

Lottery organisers say the win must be redeemed within 180 days of the draw, which took place on 14 November.

Pokémon card sales at major US retailer halted over security fears

Target, which has over 1,900 outlets in the US, made the decision after a man drew a gun in a fight over trading cards outside a store in Wisconsin.

"The safety of our guests and our team is our top priority," the company said in a statement to US media.

Sales of trading cards have rocketed amid the pandemic.

The suspension of in-store sales is temporary, the company said, adding that online sales are not effected.

Walmart, a top competitor to Target, says they have also seen increasing demand, but do not currently have plans to block sales.

US-based Moderna to send 25m vaccine doses to Australia

The government said 10 million doses of the mRNA vaccine are due to arrive by the end of the year, and 15 million shots in 2022.

Australia's rollout has lagged behind other nations after initial delays and caution over the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The country has so far administered 2.8 million shots of a Covid vaccine.

That is well short of the 50 million jabs needed to fully vaccinate its population. The country's immunisation programme was recently opened to all Australians aged over 50.

US inflation sees biggest jump since 2008

Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in the 12 months through to April, up from 2.6% in March and marking the biggest increase since September 2008.

The report from the US Labor Department comes amid fears that rising consumer prices could push up interest rates.

Some analysts said that the figures could be rising because of temporary factors like supply bottlenecks.

Inflation, which measures the rate at which the prices for goods and services increase, was pushed up by higher prices for cars and food in April.

Colonial hack: How did cyber-attackers shut off pipeline?

The hack on Colonial Pipeline is being seen as one of the most significant attacks on critical national infrastructure in history.

The pipeline transports nearly half of the east coast's fuel supplies and prices at pumps are expected to rise if the outage is long lasting.

How can a pipeline be hacked?

For many people, the image of the oil industry is one of pipes, pumps and greasy black liquid.

In truth, the type of modern operation Colonial Pipeline runs is extremely digital.

New directory to connect Pacific exporters with US consulting companies

The directory provides a list of U.S. companies with expertise in business-to-business matchmaking, distribution, marketing, and biosecurity compliance who are eager to work in Fiji and other Pacific markets. The directory is follow-up from the March 2021 Direct Line virtual conference “Growing the Fiji Brand: U.S. Services Needed” that attracted dozens of companies from across the United States eager to help Pacific exporters thrive.

US fires warning shots at Iranian boats in Gulf

The Pentagon said 13 fast boats from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came within 140m (459ft) of US vessels on Monday.

The Iranian vessels left after 30 warning shots were fired, the Pentagon said.

This is the second such incident in the region in two weeks.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby accused the Iranian boats of "acting very aggressively" near the US military vessels, which were escorting USS Georgia, a guided-missile submarine.

Indianapolis FedEx gunman was former employee

Police named the suspect as 19-year-old Brandon Hole, who last worked at the company in 2020.

He began shooting "randomly" almost immediately after exiting his car, according to police.

Seven people were also injured and the gunman apparently killed himself before police arrived, officials say.

This is the latest incident in a recent uptick of mass shootings across the US.

The victims in Thursday's shootings have not yet been named.

A statement from FedEx chairman and CEO Frederick Smith described the incident as a "senseless act of violence".